God leads people into the Church in unexpected ways. For Dan and Julia Motte, it began with putting their son, Mathew, into preschool at St. Mary. From there, the dominoes began to fall. Although Dan has family that are Catholic, he was raised nondenominational. When Mathew started school, Dan began to do more research and by 2021, he knew he wanted to be received into the Church. Yet, Julia was more hesitant.
“When Dan first told me he was interested in becoming Catholic I was a little standoffish,” Julia says. “I had some misconceptions about the faith and hoped it would blow over, but the more he studied, the more he could answer my questions and prove me wrong. I decided it was something I wanted to do as well.”
Julia entered the Church in 2022. The couple’s two children, Mathew and Trevor, were also baptized — and when their daughter, Juliana, came along, the rest of the family was already Catholic. The Mottes are expecting their fourth child, a little boy, in November. While the Catholic faith drew the family in, St. Mary played an unmistakable role in that decision. The Motte family became involved with the school and the parish when COVID restrictions were still in effect, but the strong community still made a big impression.
“There was a really big sense of community and the church does a great job including people, especially new faces,” Dan says. “The connection we felt at St. Mary’s was like nothing I’ve experienced before.”
At first, Dan and Julia became involved at the school with their children, but as their faith grew, they became more and more involved in parish life as well.
“I think that being involved really helps to strengthen the connection to God,” Julia says. “The way I was raised, church was just one day a week, it was something in the background. But even at the school, the kids go to Mass almost every day and there’s a much stronger connection between their education and God. That’s something we feel strongly about and appreciate.”
Dan quickly joined the Knights of Columbus, enjoying the fraternity and charitable work. Julia got involved with a Bible study group. For both, discovering the faith is an ongoing process.
“I’ve always said that RCIA (Becoming Catholic) is the means to a beginning,” Dan says. “There’s so much to learn about the faith, so much depth and rich history. I feel like we’re constantly learning all the time.”
Julia has loved seeing how the parish gives her a way to be active in the wider community, connecting her faith with everyday life.
“It’s so powerful to have such an impact on your community,” Julia says. “Some other churches stay within themselves and don’t try to reach out as much. It’s refreshing to see that.”
For both Dan and Julia, the sense of community helped them work through any fears or difficulties they encountered along their journey.
“It’s very intimidating, not understanding everything that happens at the Mass,” Dan says. “That’s why it’s so important for the parish community to be welcoming.”